Quick Links

To solve pick-and-roll issues, Wizards learn going smaller can be necessary

To solve pick-and-roll issues, Wizards learn going smaller can be necessary

There was a push on Kemba Walker as he tried to curl around Cody Zeller’s on the screen-and-roll action. There was the complete sellout by Marcin Gortat to contain the diminutive but speedy point guard for the Charlotte Hornets, making it difficult for him to lob the pass over the top at the rim.

There also was the switching involved by having Kelly Oubre, who started in place of Markieff Morris, to assist in preventing one of the NBA’s most lethal teams on the pick-and-roll from getting those easy buckets.

The result wasn’t just a 109-106 victory, but it was an about-face compared with how the Wizards played in a 112-101 loss to the Miami Heat on Monday. In that game, they were shredded on the pick-and-roll by Goran Dragic and James Johnson. They didn’t allow the Hornets to be physical with them first. Instead, the Wizards (10-14) took the initiative to set the tone.

“We had to start getting physical, and not let them just run their offense so freely,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said of the third quarter, when they tied it at 56 but quickly fell down by double-digits as Charlotte went on a 10-0 run. “I thought we did a better job of making them miss shots and not hoping that they miss. … We didn’t know Markieff was going to be out with a sore foot and Kelly came in and stepped up and did a great job defensively.”

Charlotte (14-12) is known for how they screen – sometimes illegally – to free Walker to get to the basket. Zeller and Frank Kaminsky, in particular are good at catching the ball and on handoffs spreading their legs to force the defender to take a wider angle. That allows Walker to turn the corner more effectively and the screener to dive to the basket for the feed or the putback on the weakside.

[RELATED: Takeaways from Wizards' win over tough Hornets]

The Wizards took that away. In fact, they had seven more offensive rebounds (12), dominated in second-chance points (21-6) and points in the paint (56-28). They also more than doubled Charlotte’s output in steals (15-7).

Marvin Williams, a stretch power forward starter for Charlotte, was rendered ineffective vs. Oubre. Williams was just 2-for-6 for four points. Oubre was 7-for-12 for 15 points, six rebounds and two steals.

“One through four when they ran pick-and-roll with Marvin Williams, that’s one of their bread-and-butter plays getting Kemba to turn the corner,” said John Wall, who led all scorers with 25 points and 10 assists. “We just switched it one through four and then with these guys running pick-and-roll our bigs did a great job of being up into the screens so those guys couldn’t split or come downhill. The weakside was intact. We did a great job of forcing them into some tough shots and we were stealing the ball.”

The role that Gortat, who had 16 points, 12 rebounds and two steals, played in the success of the coverage can’t be overstated. Without the guards and the frontline being in sync and making multiple efforts, none of this works.

Coach Scott Brooks had to go away from Gortat in Miami which went small with Johnson -- a small forward -- playing as a center and initiating the screen-roll with Dragic who is the point guard. He used Morris as the five and opted to sit Gortat. Wall believes another adjustment there would’ve done the trick like it did Wednesday.

“I felt like we could’ve went smaller and played with all of our guards and basically have Otto or Kelly on (Johnson) and then we can be able to switch one through five and just battle it out on the boards," Wall said. "Having a big out there was kind of tough because James Johnson was handling the ball, running the pick-and-roll with the point guard and we were getting confused a little bit and it gave those guys some open shots.”

So it's not just the communication between players that produced a better defensive effort and win vs. Charlotte. It's communication from players to the coaching staff on what they think works best for them, too.

[RELATED: Wall says Wizards will take anything they can get]

Quick Links

Report: NBA, players discuss withholding up to 25% of remaining salaries if season is canceled

Report: NBA, players discuss withholding up to 25% of remaining salaries if season is canceled

If the rest of the 2019-20 regular season is canceled, the NBA may be able to keep up to 25 percent of the salaries its players receive after April 1, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

League officials are in discussions with the National Basketball Players Association about a deal that would amend the collective bargaining agreement to give players a greater share of the financial damage inflicted by the coronavirus outbreak that’s put the current season on hold.

Wojnarowski writes that while the NBA has “no plans to announce the cancellation of games in the immediate future,” it’s preparing for all scenarios, including one in which coronavirus isn’t contained in time to salvage the regular season.

The NBA has already been withholding 10 percent of the players’ salaries with the promise of paying out the remaining 90 percent through April 1. In accordance with the CBA’s Force Majeure provision (reserved for catastrophic events), that money has been held by the NBA with a certain percentage slotted to be returned to teams at the end of the year depending on how much revenue is lost.

However, it appears the 10 percent cut has not been sufficient for softening the blow dealt by the season’s suspension. Per Wojnarowski, Commissioner Adam Silver and about 100 top league officials have already agreed to 20 percent pay cut. With team owners handling their own financial ramifications, the league is hoping for its players to help alleviate that burden and prevent the NBA from having to recoup additional percentages from the players after the season.

The purpose of the Force Majeure is to prevent the salary cap and luxury tax from taking a nosedive next season and beyond. By recouping additional salary, teams would be in better standing for spending relatively close to what they’ve done the past few years.

If the two sides don’t come to an agreement, players could owe back portions of their salaries at the end of the season. In an effort to avoid seizing past salaries, the league is asking the NBPA to agree to a deal while working on a plan to help players budget their spending based on reduced incomes.

As much as the NBA would like to resume its regular season in some fashion, the coronavirus pandemic has entirely changed the outlook—both logistically and financially—of professional sports in 2020 for the worst. Everything the league does now is just part of an effort to limit the damage as best it can.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.


Quick Links

Rui Hachimura to take on Donovan Mitchell in first-ever NBA 2K Players Tournament

Rui Hachimura to take on Donovan Mitchell in first-ever NBA 2K Players Tournament

NBA fans will get a chance to watch some of their favorite players go head-to-head once again, just not in the setting we're used to. 

With the regular season under suspension, the NBA announced the first-ever NBA 2K Players Tournament, featuring 16 players who will play each other in NBA 2K20 for $100,000 donated to coronavirus support efforts. 

The tournament will begin on April 3 on ESPN and will include the following players seeded 1-through-16 based first on their 2K rating and second on their seniority in the league:

1. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets (96)
2. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks (90)
3. Hassan Whiteside, Portland Trail Blazers (87)
4. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz (87)
5. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns (86)
6. Andre Drummond, Cleveland Cavaliers (85)
7. Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls (85)
8. Montrezl Harrell, LA Clippers (85)
9. Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers (85)
10. Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns (85)
11. DeMarcus Cousins (81)
12. Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets (81)
13. Rui Hachimura, Washington Wizards (79)
14. Patrick Beverley, LA Clippers (78)
15. Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings (78)
16. Derrick Jones Jr., Miami Heat (78)

Each player will choose eight current NBA teams to use before the tournament starts, though they can only use each of their selections once. The first two rounds are single elimination, while the semifinals and finals will be best of three. 

Wizards standout rookie Rui Hachimura enters the tournament as the No. 13 seed and will begin the tournament against Utah's All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell Friday. Mitchell may have a higher 2K rating and status in the league, but there's no telling where either player's 2K skills stand. 

Hachimura could very well take Mitchell down and set up a showdown with the winner of Andre Drummond vs. DeMarcus Cousins. 

The first round will begin Friday and run through the weekend, with the second round airing next Tuesday and the semifinals and finals wrapping up the tournament on Saturday, April 11. 

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.